Please join us for a fascinating and timely lecture on Science Denialism in America with Dr.Michael Stamatikos,…

Please join us for a fascinating and timely lecture on Science Denialism in America with Dr.Michael Stamatikos, Assistant Professor at OhioStateNewark. This lecture is hosted by the American Chemical Society and streamed online by Science on Google+. Feel free to post your questions on the event post. See below for more details.

Link to event: http://columbus.sites.acs.org/meetingnotice.htm

Title: A Modern Reprise of the Dark Ages? The Socioeconomic and Geopolitical Consequences of Science Denialism in America

Dr. Michael Stamatikos

Department of Physics, Department of Astronomy &

Center for Cosmology & AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP)

The Ohio State University (OSU) at Newark

Abstract: We live in an Information Age that is defined by ever increasing computational benchmarks, which further enable discoveries in traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. However, average cell phones with more computing power than all of NASA circa 1969 are bluntly juxtaposed with a rapidly eroding national capacity for accepting unbiased scientific results. Why is the first nation to reach the Moon scientifically regressing towards the Dark Ages? Although there are several contributing factors, Science Denialism is playing a major role in this disturbing national trend. Science Denialism is the irrational denial of otherwise conclusive scientific evidence, solely based upon a perceived conflict with antecedent political, economic and/or religious worldviews, which results in a selective distortion of scientific understanding. The conflation of skepticism with denialism leads to ambiguous inferences regarding the nature of consensus amongst scientists and provides a historical context for the apparent verisimilitude of pseudoscience, which some have attempted to include into academic curricula. In that regard, I’ll give an astrophysicists’ perspective on common topics such as: evolution, climate change, intelligent design and young Earth creationism, which are periodically the subjects of high-profile public “debates”. This national regression is further exacerbated by a STEM educational crisis and rampant scientific illiteracy/innumeracy amongst the electorate and its appointed government officials, which systematically obstructs our ability to formulate and implement evidence-based policies with bipartisan support. The resulting political dissonance resonates in cyber echo chambers and is further amplified in an era of the 24-hour cable news cycle – especially in a presidential election year. But what is science? How is it done? How do we “know” things? Why is it important? How can we combat this internal threat? Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. As practitioners of science, we need to help each other understand on all levels, which means enhancing the quality and content of information when communicating our results, their implications and the scientific process, via education and public outreach. Science is not an absolute collection of facts to be memorized, but rather it can be thought of as the art of asking the right question(s) – this distinction is paramount. The scientific method allows for a statistical analysis of different models, whose selective predictions are confronted with independent observations, thus allowing for an evolving empirical understanding of Nature. Critical thinking and analytical reasoning are ubiquitous problem solving skills that are also crucial characteristics of an educated citizenry, which is essential to a thriving democracy and national security. Most importantly, we’ll need to collaborate with science advocates embedded within the insular communities that harbor each particular strand of Science Denialism. If left unchecked, Science Denialism threatens to cripple our long term national economy, short-change future generations of crucial self-investments in our education system and impede our ability to compete as a world leader in STEM research.

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22 Comments


  1. Michael Stamatikos will give the talk at the Columbus, Ohio chapter of the American Chemical Society (North High Street). Here are details for the actual event: http://columbus.sites.acs.org/meetingnotice.htm. The internet connection is questionable, so I will only be streaming his slides and audio on G+ and youtube.


    Samuel Rivera – don’t forget to send me our CogSci paper – revisions are due on Friday. 🙂

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  2. All scientific activity is an attempt to reverse the consequences of sin. That’s why animals and birds seem to be able to achieve less than humans: they live close to nature and have much less burden of sin to suffer. If man lived according to God’s law science would be entirely redundant

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  3. Well Patrick : I don’t think anyone even in America denies “scientifically proven” results. But the vast majority of scientific activity is neither objective nor conclusive and we are all pissed off with these opportunistic and dishonest phonies and fakes trying to force their rubbish down our throats


    I’ve long since given up trying to help people see the advantages of natural living respectful of God’s creation but I will always oppose charlatans and criminals trying to steal my taxes for their own self-glorification

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  4. John Lawrence Millions of rocks have been dated using the laws of physics. The vast majority of rocks dated are well over a million years old, some as old as over 4 billion years old.


    ZERO human remains, out the billions found so far, are in rock over a million years old. Zero remains of any mammal, are found in rock over 250 million years old.


    This is scientifically proven, yet this fact is denied by millions of religious Christians in the US.

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  5. Patrick Smith and Jews, Patrick, don’t forget the Jews! “Religious Christians” slight tautology there methinks.


    But in all honesty the views of Institutional Christianity aren’t taken seriously by anyone at all. I don’t know why scientists get so het up about it.


    I’m not convinced the word “conclusive” is justified in your summary of research into human remains. Certainly I myself have no interest whatsoever in the age of the human race. My concern is with the philosophical accuracy of the metaphysics of the Bible – for example the story of Adam and Eve and the conformity of human history to its predictions – which is absolutely indisputable and which is what I was talking about in my first comment

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  6. John Lawrence The US vice President elect and nearly all the Republican candidates think the Earth is 6,000 years old.


    They do not accept the validity of modern science. And it IS something to be worried about.

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  7. Patrick Smith And neither do the heads of most American banking corporations, the film studios and TV companies and newspapers – as I pointed out to you just now. But these are pointless concerns. They are all business people who sign up to


    these institutions but such superstitions play no part in their daily lives


    What is worrying is that the entire human race ignores the laws of action and consequence which are the basis of Genesis and which have been proved real and immutable over centuries of human activity. Arguing about the existence or otherwise of Father Christmas which is what you do, serves no useful purpose and has the negative consequence of licensing people to ignore the reality of Holy Scripture


    You must also remember that the vast majority of scientists take such people’s money and make the monstrous weapons and machines they order. If you take their money and obey their orders you are as guilty as they are and there is no escape from that. The laws of action and consequence can never be denied

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  8. John Lawrence I agree about the laws of action and consequence.


    My profession is statistics in scientific research. Nobody tells us what to do. We make discoveries, or not, based on hard data.


    What I’m arguing is that some things can be proven using the laws of physics, even if God did set up those rules. One thing that’s proven is that the Earth is close to 4.54 billion years old. It’s a fact.


    You can ignore that, but if you do, the consequence is that you are ignoring God’s laws of physics.

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  9. To be frank I think you need to expand your horizons quite extensively: no-one today talks about the laws of physics like that!


    Timothy Leary’s book “The Politics of Ecstasy” was written precisely for people like you who have got bogged down in intellectual cul-de-sacs that have no relevance to actual reality

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  10. John Lawrence No-one but professional physicists, anthropologists, astronomers,  and other scientists, that is. Timothy Leary was not a physicist.


    Go ahead and deny the validity of modern physics if you wish. They prove that evolution happened on this 4.54 billion year old Earth.


    You have no significant data proving otherwise. I’ve discussed this topic with hundreds of religious young earth believers and evolution deniers. They have yet to produce any significant data invalidating evolution on this 4.54 billion year old Earth.


    You are on an intellectual cul-de-sac and you don’t even realize it. Science denial is a serious problem, especially in the US. It’s like a cancer, eating away at human progress.

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  11. I would strongly advise you in your own interests to stop pestering young Christians. Tackle some Jews if you can but I doubt you have it in you to do that.


    As I said if you were to keep up


    to date you would know that “the laws of physics” are not regarded as authoritative any more by the science community .


    Really no-one cares how old the earth is or human life. I’ve said that three times but you seem unable to understand. Timothy Leary was a renowned Harvard neurologist, but I should have known better than to refer you to him. Honestly mate you seem to be on the verge of a serious nervous breakdown.

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  12. John Lawrence I’m a member of the scientific community. We accept the validity of the scientific method and of statistically significant and independently validated data.


    Jews or Christians can accept or deny the validity of science. Or they can live in the demon haunted dark ages. That’s their business.


    But don’t go teaching ancient superstitions to children in place of science. That’s child abuse.

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  13. The rise of the “flat earth theory” is not only ridiculous, it is also dangerous. There are a growing number of people who are educating children with this absurd system of beliefs. People who have no basic grasp of scientific principles will be left behind socially and will be targets of ridicule. If an adult wants to believe in nefarious and false science that’s fine. Teaching this to children is abuse in my mind. And I don’t feel that I’m being dramatic. It is on par with not treating the sick with medical expertise because of personal belief systems. Most of us understand what happens in societies that are sceptical of science. In many parts of the world people who have physicall and mental afflictions are thought to be possessed. By blindly believing in a flat earth one has to vigorously insulate themselves from over 200 years of evidence. I think time and energy spent on educating these people is wasted.


    It borders on having a conversation about religion. They believe what they believe. Children are the ones we need to save from “flat earth” believers.

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